Skip to content

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can resemble a common cold in adults. For children, though, Dr. MeKeisha Pickensespecially those younger than 2 years old, it can be more serious.

RSV is an infection of the lungs and airways. In the Northern Hemisphere, including the United States, RSV occurs most frequently between November and April. “RSV is a winter virus, and we’re at the peak of its season right now in January and February,” said Dr. MeKeisha Pickens, staff pediatrician at Children’s of Alabama Pediatrics West primary care practice.

RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis, which is an infection of the bronchioles, the smallest airways of the lungs. “RSV has a greater impact on infants and young children because their noses and small airways can become more easily blocked,” Pickens said.

Preventing RSV
RSV is highly contagious and can spread quickly through daycare centers and schools. It is transmitted through droplets when someone infected with the virus coughs or sneezes. The virus can also live on hard surfaces such as countertops and doorknobs. One of the best lines of defense against RSV, Pickens said, is washing your hands and by making sure children follow your lead. However, it might not be possible to avoid it completely.

“By the time your child turns 2, it is highly likely that he or she has been exposed to RSV,” Pickens said.

While there isn’t a vaccine to prevent RSV for the general population, some at-risk children may get injections that help guard against an infection. “Children who were born prematurely or have chronic lung problems or heart disease are considered to be at-risk for an RSV infection,” Pickens said.

Symptoms of RSV
Early symptoms of an RSV infection are a mild cough with wheezing, runny nose, congestion and fever (greater than 100.4°F). There may also be a decreased appetite. The virus typically lasts up to five days, worsening on the third and fourth day. There could be some residual symptoms, including a lingering cough, for up to two weeks.

Parents should be aware of more serious symptoms associated with RSV. These signs could be rapid breathing, sinking of the skin between the ribs and above the neck as well as nose flaring.  “When the child is taking more than 60 breaths per minute, it’s time to call your doctor,” Pickens said.  Very young babies can also turn blue, or stop breathing completely.  This is an emergency, and parents should see a doctor immediately.

Severe cases of RSV may lead to other illnesses and even require hospitalization.

Treating RSV
One of the primary symptoms of an RSV infection is nasal congestion. If your child is unable to blow his or her own nose, you may need to assist with a bulb syringe or nasal aspirator.

“It’s so important to keep the child’s nose clear. Squirt a saline nasal spray or drops in each nostril. Wait about 30 seconds, and then clear the nose with an aspirator or bulb syringe. Most kids don’t like the aspirator, but it really does work,” Pickens said. She recommends repeating that process several times throughout the day, especially before eating or drinking and at naptime or bedtime.

Pickens also suggests acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever and liquids to stay hydrated. “You may have to have your child drink small amounts throughout the day. You want them urinating at least three times a day to ensure they aren’t dehydrated,” Pickens said.

A cool-mist humidifier may help alleviate congestion. Just remember to clean the humidifier regularly to prevent mold growth. “A dirty humidifier can cause even more respiratory issues,” she said.

One other treatment is even sweeter than the others: honey. “If your child is over a year old, you can treat with 5 mL (1 teaspoon) of honey three to four times a day,” Pickens said.

Treating mild cases of RSV is all about managing the symptoms. Sometimes all your child may need is time to rest and recover as the virus runs its course.

The Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama

February is National Heart Month.  Oftentimes the focus may be on adults and heart disease, but children can have heart issues as well.  In fact almost one in every 100 newborns in the United States is born with a congenital heart defect.

Children’s of Alabama is home to the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center of Alabama, where more than 250 professionals are solely dedicated to children with heart disease. Dr. Yung Lau is a Pediatric Cardiologist at Children’s. He says heart issues in children are different from adults. “Usually in adults, heart disease is an acquired disease, something that has developed over a lifetime,” Lau says.  “In pediatric cases, it’s more likely to be children born with hearts that aren’t properly formed from birth.”

Often parents are concerned their seemingly healthy child may have a heart complication during strenuous activity. Dr. Lau stresses the importance of a healthy diet and exercise to prevent heart disease from forming. He also says it’s very important for parents to fill out the Pre-Participation Physical before their child engages in sports. “The physical that is done and questionnaire is very important to identify children at risk for having sudden death on the playing field,” he says.

The Pre-Participation form will reveal many potential concerns including:

  • serious illnesses among family members
  • illnesses that kids had when they were younger or may have now, such as asthma, diabetes, or epilepsy
  • previous hospitalizations or surgeries
  • allergies (to insect bites, for example)
  • past injuries (including concussions, sprains, or bone fractures)
  •        whether the child has ever passed out, felt dizzy, had chest pain, or had trouble   breathing during exercise
  • any medications taken (including over-the-counter medications, herbal supplements, and prescription medications)

It can be tempting for parents to be overly protective, especially when it comes to concerns about their child’s heart. But preventing children from living a normal life can often do more harm than good.

Thankfully advancements in diagnostic technologies can identify and provide detailed information about heart abnormalities. Advancements in medical knowledge, treatments, surgery and catheterization can help the majority of pediatric heart patients have a good quality of life.

 

Frostbite

Chances are when it was cold outside, your mother would say, “Put your gloves on! You’ll get frostbite!” If it was freezing, your mother wasn’t exaggerating. Frostbite is, literally, frozen body tissue. It usually affects the skin but can sometimes affect deeper tissue. The areas most prone to frostbite are the fingers, toes, face and ears.

Children are at greater risk for frostbite than adults because they lose heat faster than adults, and they may play outside in cold temperatures for longer periods of time.

It’s important for parents to recognize the signs of frostbite so they can get proper treatment.

What to Watch For

Frostnip

Frostnip is a milder form of injury. It usually affects areas of skin exposed to the cold, such as the cheeks, nose, ears, fingers and toes, leaving them red and numb or tingly. Frostnip can be treated at home and gets better with rewarming. Stay alert because frostnip is considered to be an early warning sign of frostbite!

Frostbite

Frostbite is characterized by white, waxy skin that feels numb and hard. It requires immediate emergency medical attention. Frostbite can be associated with hypothermia, which is a serious medical emergency. Blistering may occur as well, which also is considered a medical emergency.

If you believe your child has frostbite, contact a doctor immediately. Get your child into dry clothing and a warm environment. Give your child a warm drink and begin first aid immediately. Immerse frozen areas in warm, but not hot water. Do not use direct heat such as a fire or heating pad on the skin. The skin may be numb and can burn easily.

Prevention

Of course, it’s best to prevent frostbite before it occurs. To help prevent frostbite in cold weather:

  • Stay updated on weather forecasts. If it’s extremely cold, even brief exposure can cause frostbite.
  • Dress children in windproof, waterproof clothing when in the snow.
  • Dress kids in warm layers and use hats, gloves, scarves, thick socks and well-insulated boots to cover body parts that are most prone to frostbite.
  • Make sure children come indoors regularly to warm up.
  • Change children out of wet clothing and shoes as soon as possible.
  • It’s okay for children to play in the snow, but make sure they are bundled up, check on them often (Remember they may not tell you when they’re cold) and require they take frequent breaks to warm up indoors and change into warm, dry clothes.

For more information about frostbite visit www.childrensal.org/kidshealth.

Beware the Dangers of “Safer” E-Cigarettes

Ann P. Slattery  DrPH, RN, RPh, CSPI, DABAT is the Managing Director and Clinical Toxicologist of the Regional Poison Control Center at Children’s of Alabama. She is a registered nurse, registered pharmacist and holds both a Master’s degree and Doctorate in Public Health. Ann is a member of member of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology and the American Board of Applied Toxicology. 

VapingThe dangers and side effects of smoking cigarettes are well documented, but electronic cigarettes that are promoted as a “safer” alternative can be just as harmful.
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are battery-powered smoking devices. They use cartridges filled with a liquid that contains nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals. A heating element in the e-cigarette converts the e-liquid into a vapor that can be inhaled. Using e-cigarettes is sometimes called “vaping.”

“Even without the tobacco, there are several dangers associated with vaping,” said Ann Slattery, managing director of the Regional Poison Control Center at Children’s of Alabama. “When you are vaping, you are inhaling substances that your lungs aren’t equipped to handle.”

One such ingredient in the e-liquid is propylene glycol. This is a substance that has many applications, including aircraft de-icing fluid. When propylene glycol is heated, as in the e-cigarette, it produces known carcinogens. Because the liquid used in e-cigarettes isn’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there could be other harmful substances lurking there in addition to the listed ingredients.

There are also concerns similar to the secondhand smoke associated with traditional tobacco cigarettes. “If you are using e-cigarettes near children, some of the vapor will escape into the air. Therefore, there is potential that the child is being exposed to the same chemicals that you are inhaling,” Slattery said.

One of the primary dangers associated with the e-liquid is the high concentration of nicotine. One 30 milliliter (ml) bottle of e-liquid with a concentration of 3.6 percent (36 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter) is equivalent to smoking 600 traditional tobacco cigarettes. With the variety of familiar flavorings and bright colors that are added, these e-liquids could easily attract the interest of a curious child. And just a small amount – as little as 1/8 teaspoon – of this e-liquid can be potentially fatal for a child who ingests it. Even touching liquid nicotine is dangerous because it can be easily absorbed through the skin.

“The number of accidental exposures to liquid nicotine reported to poison centers has increased,” Slattery said. Data from across the country between 2011 and 2014 show an alarming 2810 percent increase in the number of calls about children ages 5 and under who had been exposed to liquid nicotine.

Those using e-cigarettes are susceptible to overexposure to liquid nicotine as well. “The devices can leak, and the user could ingest a dangerous amount of the liquid,” Slattery said.

Direct contact with liquid nicotine can cause:

  • eye irritation
  • skin irritation
  • severe stomach pain
  • vomiting
  • seizures
  • difficulty breathing
  • fast heart rate
  • high blood pressure

If you suspect a child has come in contact with liquid nicotine, call 1-800-222-1222 immediately. The hotline to the Regional Poison Control Center at Children’s of Alabama is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Children’s of Alabama Pediatric Spondyloarthritis Clinic

Matthew StollMatthew Stoll, M.D., Ph.D., MSCS, treats pediatric rheumatology patients at Children’s of Alabama. Dr. Stoll is also an associate professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Rheumatology.

The Division of Pediatric Rheumatology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and Children’s of Alabama was created in 2007 in response to a great need for pediatric rheumatic care in the state of Alabama, the largest state population without a pediatric rheumatologist at the time. A partnership between UAB, Children’s, the local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation and the greater Birmingham community helped to establish new clinic space, the creation of an endowed chair in Pediatric Rheumatology and ongoing support for the growth of the division.

The Pediatric Spondyloarthritis Clinic at Children’s of Alabama is devoted to the clinical care and research of children diagnosed with juvenile spondyloarthritis. The clinic was established in March 2014. Today, more than 150 children are being treated for spondyloarthritis at Children’s.

According the Arthritis Foundation, nearly 300,000 children — from infants to teenagers — in the United States have some form of arthritis. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is the most common type of arthritis in children, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s tissues, causing inflammation in joints and potentially other areas of the body.

Spondyloarthritis is one of six types of JIA. It involves inflammation and tenderness in areas where the ligaments and tendons attach to the bones, accompanied by pain and swelling in the joints. In some cases, spondyloarthritis primarily affects the spine. Some forms can affect the peripheral joints, primarily — but not exclusively — those in the legs. Typical symptoms are low back pain and stiffness, joint swelling and pain in areas such as the Achilles tendon.

In addition, some patients with spondlyoarthritis may experience inflammation in parts of the body other than the joints. My research has focused specifically on the links between inflammation in the gut and in the joints of children and adults with spondlyoarthritis.

Children who are referred to the weekly Pediatric Spondyloarthritis Clinic benefit from the continuity of care from a team of doctors with targeted clinical expertise in this area. While there are few effective therapeutic options in the management of spondlyoarthritis, current treatment regimens include conventional therapeutic drugs, as well as newer biologic therapies.

While the exact cause of juvenile idiopathic arthritis, including spondlyoarthritis, remains unknown, clinic patients can participate in our ongoing research that will help advance understanding of pediatric spondyloarthritis.

The Pediatric Spondyloarthritis Clinic also provides screening and treatment specifically for temporomandibular joint arthritis (TMJ), a joint frequently ignored in children with JIA as a whole.

Hand Sanitizer: Keeping Little Hands Clean and Safe

Door knobs. Stair rails. Elevator buttons. Just the thought of touching any of those during cold and flu hand_sanitizerseason may send you running for the nearest bottle of hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is a convenient way to keep your hands clean and germ-free, but parents should be aware of the potential harm it can cause.

“There are times when you don’t have access to good old-fashioned soap and water to wash your hands,” said Ann Slattery, managing director of the Regional Poison Control Center at Children’s of Alabama. “Using hand sanitizer is an easy way to stay healthy when you’re on the go, but it’s not without its own inherent danger because it contains alcohol.”

Hand sanitizers contain 40 to 95 percent alcohol, and many formulas contain a stronger alcohol concentration than most hard liquors. Just 1 ounce of hand sanitizer – most are greater than 60 percent – has the same alcohol content as a 12 ounce can of beer. Therefore, accidental ingestion or intentional misuse of hand sanitizer is cause for concern.

“From a young child’s perspective, hand sanitizer may smell good, and it’s usually in brightly colored, glittery bottles,” Slattery said. “With older children, there are reports of them daring others to drink it.”

The number of reported cases of hand sanitizer exposure in Alabama has grown since 2011. That year, there were 159 calls to the Regional Poison Control Center involving hand sanitizer. Through October 2015, Slattery said there have been about 300 calls involving hand sanitizer, already surpassing the total 269 calls involving hand sanitizer in all of 2014. Nationally, there were nearly 15,000 reported exposure cases through August 2015.

To prevent potentially harmful exposure to hand sanitizer:

  • Keep hand sanitizer well out of reach of children at all times.
  • Children should use hand sanitizer only with adult supervision.
  • Apply a dime-sized amount of sanitizer to dry hands, and rub together until completely dry.

If you suspect your child may have ingested any amount of hand sanitizer, Slattery encourages parents to call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 immediately. The signs won’t always be as obvious as an empty bottle lying around. “When in doubt, check it out,” she said.

Some potential symptoms of harmful exposure to hand sanitizer include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Stumbling
  • Falling

Some delayed symptoms could include a drop in blood sugar and a drop in body temperature.

The Regional Poison Control Center’s hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Established in 1958, The Regional Poison Control Center at Children’s of Alabama more than 50,000 poison calls annually, plus more than 60,000 follow-up calls. For more information, visit https://www.childrensal.org/rpcc.

Pinkeye

Pinkeye is the most common eye problem children can have, but it can be alarming when it happens to your child. Pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids.

Dr. Christina Fettig, a pediatrician with Mayfair Medical Group in Homewood, says the most common symptoms of pinkeye include:

Symptoms

  • Reddening of the eye
  • Discomfort
  • Tearing or draining from the eye
  • Feeling like there’s sand in the eye

You’ve probably heard that pinkeye is highly contagious. Dr. Fettig explains there are actuallyfour different types of pinkeye, two that are contagious and two that are not.

Contagious Forms of Pinkeye

  • Viral (often accompanied by the common cold, usually goes away on its own)
  • Bacterial (very common, can be treated with drops)

Non Contagious Forms of Pinkeye

  • Allergy based (more prone in children with allergies, especially seasonal allergies)
  • Irritant caused (swimming)

Because there are multiple types of pinkeye, it’s especially important to see your child’s pediatrician early to identify which type it is and the course of treatment.

“It is important, especially with bacterial pinkeye,” Fettig said. “If started early enough eye drops can decrease the duration of symptoms.”

In addition, doctors usually recommend keeping kids who have been diagnosed with contagious conjunctivitis out of school or daycare until the symptoms have been resolved.

Prevention

Simple hand washing is the number one way to prevent pinkeye. Children should be taught to wash their hands well and frequently with warm water and soap. Parents should remember to wash their own hands thoroughly after touching their child’s eyes, particularly after treating their infected child with eye drops.

While contagious pinkeye may be uncomfortable and inconvenient, there is good news. Pinkeye caused by a virus will usually resolve on its own. Bacterial pinkeye is easily treatable. And in most cases, conjunctivitis causes no long term eye or vision damage.

Meningitis

Fall is a time of year when kids often pick up colds and other viruses. Unfortunately they’re also more at risk of getting something more serious, meningitis.

Meningitis is a disease involving inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.

There are two types of meningitis: viral and bacterial.

“The prognosis for viral meningitis is very good,” according to Dr. Mark Baker, a physician in the Emergency Department at Children’s of Alabama. “It’s relatively common and usually goes away in about a week. The prognosis for bacterial meningitis depends on how quickly you get treatment.

Viral meningitis

As Dr. Baker indicated, viral meningitis is the most common form. It’s usually less serious than bacterial meningitis. It’s caused by many different types of viruses, including those that infect the skin, urinary tract, or digestive and respiratory systems.

Children with viral meningitis may present a lot of flu like symptoms.

  • These include:
  • fever
  • headache
  • sensitivity to light
  • fatigue
  • fussiness
  • nausea
  • neck stiffness
  • vomiting

To identify meningitis, doctors may do a spinal tap (lumbar puncture) to get a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid for testing. Most people recover on their own within 7-10 days.

Bacterial meningitis

Bacterial meningitis is rare, but is usually more serious and can be life threatening if not treated immediately.

Bacterial meningitis is caused by different types of bacteria. Bacteria that infect the skin, urinary tract, gastrointestinal and respiratory system can spread via the bloodstream to the meninges.

Sometimes bacteria may spread from severe head trauma or a severe local infection, such as a serious ear or nasal infection.

A person with bacterial meningitis may have:

  • fever
  • headache
  • stiff neck
  • sensitivity to light
  • extreme tiredness
  • irritability
  • nausea
  • vomiting

If untreated, bacterial meningitis can lead to seizures, coma and even death.

For this reason Baker said it’s important to see your child’s physician anytime they are ill and don’t seem to be acting like themselves.

“Anytime you think your child is seriously ill, or something doesn’t seem right,” he said. “It’s a good idea to have your doctor check them out or come to the emergency room and have a doctor check them. Also, if your child has had contact with someone who has meningitis, you should call your doctor to see if preventive medication is recommended.”

Treatment for bacterial meningitis includes an extended hospital stay with a strong dose of IV fluids and antibiotics.

There is encouraging news, though, in terms of prevention. Routine immunizations can go a long way toward preventing meningitis. The vaccines against Hib, measles, mumps, polio, meningococcus, and pneumococcus can protect against meningitis caused by these microorganisms.

Children’s of Alabama Expands Child Maltreatment Services

Dr. Michael A. Taylor is director of the newly created Division of Child Abuse Pediatrics at Children’s of Alabama and professor of Pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). He is board certified in general pediatrics and child abuse pediatrics. He has extensive experience in providing medical services and support to abused and neglected children.

Michael Taylor

Michael Taylor

Child maltreatment is a significant public health problem in Alabama, as it is in all states. The most recent statistics available show there were nearly 20,000 reports of child abuse or neglect during 2013 in Alabama, with about 9,000 children confirmed as victims. And that is just the tip of the iceberg, with cases often going unreported and under-reported. Studies indicate that about 1-in-8 children nationally are victims of serious abuse or neglect by the time they reach their 18th year.

Children’s of Alabama is responding to this widespread problem with the creation of a new Child Abuse Pediatrics Division. It will expand the current services provided by the Children’s Hospital Intervention and Prevention Services (CHIPS) Center.

Child maltreatment encompasses a wide variety of conditions, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, caregiver fabricated illness (previously referred to as Munchausen syndrome by proxy), neglect and psychological/emotional abuse. Thus, child abuse pediatricians must work within medical, child welfare, law enforcement and judicial systems. We are often called to testify in court.

The CHIPS Center has provided forensic medical evaluations, psychosocial assessments, play therapy, counseling, case management services, prevention education, court support and expert court testimony in cases of suspected child abuse. Drs. Melisa Peters and David Bernard have provided medical care to maltreated children at Children’s for many years through the CHIPS Center and the Emergency Department (ED); however their availability to provide care has been stretched between these two services.

The UAB Department of Pediatrics and Children’s created the new Division of Child Abuse Pediatrics along with a full-time director, a position I am honored to hold. This division will provide oversight for existing child maltreatment services being offered through Children’s and UAB. This includes The CHIPS Center, the pediatric sexual assault nurse examiner (P-SANE) program, which operates out of the ED, and other physical abuse and neglect services. Drs. Bernard and Peters have invaluable experience serving maltreated children and are both board certified in general pediatrics, child abuse pediatrics and pediatric emergency medicine. They will continue to play key roles with Dr. Bernard as the medical director for the SANE program and Dr. Peters as the medical director for The CHIPS Center.

These actions are moving Children’s to the advanced tier of services for child maltreatment. Over the next five years we will move to develop at Children’s a “Center of Excellence,” the top tier as defined by the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA). This expansion will involve an extended regional presence, larger child protection teams, an accredited fellowship, research initiatives and increased family intervention and prevention services.

I have a special affection for Children’s, having served my pediatric residency here and serving as a long-time pediatrician at the University Medical Center in Tuscaloosa. And I am passionate about providing medical services to our most vulnerable children.

Children’s has a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center, a large Emergency Department, a nationally known neonatal intensive care unit, pediatric cardiovascular services, the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders and many other top organizations within top organizations. Children’s is now becoming a leader in the recognition, management and prevention of child maltreatment.

Medication Safety

The difference between a tablespoon and a teaspoon is a mere 0.33 liquid ounces. That’s barely two-hundredths of a pound. Yet that minuscule amount can also be the difference between a healthy child and a terrifying trip to the emergency room.medsafety

One of the biggest dangers to children can be found in the small bottles that are supposed to make them feel better. In 2011, nearly 68,000 children in the United States were seen in emergency rooms for medicine poisoning, according to safekids.org. And some of those emergencies were prompted not by children getting into medicines on their own, but rather by their parents accidentally giving them the incorrect drug or dosage.

Karen Cochrane, a nurse and educator in Patient Health and Safety Information at Children’s of Alabama, says there are several simple but important steps parents should take whenever they are giving medication to their children.

“First, it’s very important to realize that children are not small adults,” Cochrane says. “Sometimes people think that medicines that are taken frequently, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen are no big deal. But for small children, you have to be very, very careful. Because there are some medicines you shouldn’t give to children until they are a certain age or weight.”

Cochrane says parents should begin with a triple-check of the medicine itself. “Check the outside packaging to make sure it’s intact, that there are no cuts or tears,” she says. “Then when you are home, check the label on the inside package to make sure you have the right medicine. And then check the color, shape, size, smell, everything. If it doesn’t look or smell right, talk to the pharmacist.”

Other tips from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration include:

  • Do not mix two different over-the-counter medicines without knowing the active ingredient. Acetaminophen, for example, is in more than 600 medications. “So you don’t want to give something for a headache and then something for a fever and double-dose,” Cochrane says. “That’s a very easy thing to do. You want to know exactly what you’re giving, especially if you’re giving more than one. So be sure to check the active ingredients on the bottle.”
  • Use the dosing tool that comes with the medicine, and have a firm understanding of measurement sizes and abbreviations, particularly the difference between tablespoon (tbsp.) and teaspoon (tsp.), and milligram (mg.) and milliliter (mL). “A kitchen spoon isn’t going to measure out the correct amount,” Cochrane says.
  • Do not increase the dosage if the child isn’t improving, or try to catch-up if you miss a scheduled dosage time. “You don’t want to play doctor,” Cochrane says. “If one strength works a little bit, doubling it is not going to make them feel twice as good. Instead it could cause some harm. And if the child misses a dose, make sure to check with the doctor to see what to do. Never just go ahead and give another dose.”
  • Treat the medicine as medicine, and make sure children understand what they are receiving. “Never tell them that it’s candy,” Cochrane says. “There are a lot of medicines that look like candy, and they’re flavored to make it easy to take. Tell children it’s time for their medicine, and then put it away each time up and out of sight, even if you’re going to give it to them again in four hours.”
  • Communicate with your doctor and pharmacist. Let your physician know every medicine that you give your child, including vitamins and herbal supplements. Ask questions about potential side effects. Have your pharmacist mark the correct dosing amount on the syringe. “It’s OK to ask a lot of questions and double-check everything just to be sure,” Cochrane says.
  • Finally, program the number for the Regional Poison Control Center at Children’s of Alabama (800-222-1222) into your phone. “They can give you any information about medicine safety,” Cochrane says. “Hopefully you never need to call them, but if you do the number will be right there.”

Because when it comes to medication safety for children, the smallest things can make a big difference.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.